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Monday, April 30, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 22-28 April 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was a "deadline week" as we pushed to get Star Fleet Marines: Assault ready for press. The weather this week was moderate, reaching 90F a couple of days with a small amount of rain. The spam storm mostly remained at something over 200 per day. We continued to be astounded by the Kickstarter Ogre project launched by our good friend Steve Jackson and are studying the lessons for our own Kickstarter launch of Secret Project T.

Stephen and Leanna Cole continued to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their whirlwind courtship. This was the third week, during which Stephen was briefly out of town on business and called Leanna (and in those days long distance phone calls were a big deal one talked about for days).

We did not send anything to e23 this week as Leanna was busy with quarterly accounting. However, Captain's Log #22 which had been sent late last week was released.

Steve Cole continued to recover from his fall, moving at about half his normal speed. He managed to finish the Marines rulebook late on Saturday. Steve also had his annual physical and the doctor said the lab work was great but that Steve needed to lost weight. He did only a couple of other things this week (a page of E, updating the records on 2500s).

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #45 (mostly the tactics stuff) and the revision to R2 (doing over 35 revised SSDs).

 Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date but was mostly buried by quarterly accounting, government reports, royalty statements, balancing joint venture sales, etc.
Mike kept orders going out, set up some new shelf units, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates and the Captain's Log #45 cover, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,177 friends), proofread Marines, and did some marketing.

Security director Ramses apprehended an intruding Silvilagus and dealt with the matter appropriately.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Praise of Our Volunteers

The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.

Even at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson and Jean Sexton for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Andy Vancil for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will McCammon and Tony Thomas.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew Frazier) busy moving projects forward.

Very little would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.

We have other staffers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest Campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by Email or BBS or Forum, contribute in some way to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new product, point out something another company is doing what we may want to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else ever dared to ask.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the curious origins of common words.

1. CORNUCOPIA is simply the Latin terms for horn and plenty. The legend is that the nymph who raised and protected the baby Zeus broke the horn off a goat and filled it with fruit, and the horn thereafter replenished itself no matter how much the young boy Zeus ate. Any parent of a teenager could only wish for such a thing!

2. CORONER, the civic official who investigates those who die by violence or in an unexplained manner, comes from the Latin word for crown, since the original office was Guarding of the Pleas of the Crown. This official, second only to the sheriff in any county of 12th century England, had various duties (mostly with making sure the King got his just share of whatever was going on in the country). Being in charge of inheritance taxes, the Coroner was the logical person to hold an inquest should someone be murdered (or die an a way that was not immediately understood) since English law said you cannot profit from murder (or hurry up your inheritance by offing dear old mom and dad).

3. CREDENCE, that being confidence that the story presented was true, comes from credo, the Latin word for believe. But it comes to us by a peculiar route. Food quality in days before refrigeration was not certain, so all food taken from the kitchen to the dining room was first placed on a side table where someone was assigned to check it for quality and make sure that cooks were not sending spoiled food to the lord, his family, and his guests. That small side table became known as the credence (and via Italian became a piece of office furniture known as a credenza). After the need for such quality control passed, the unused side table was used to hold letters, petitions, reports, or other documents being submitted to the lord for his review. A similar table in the church was used to hold the sacramental wine and bread for holy communion and the priests believed that it was magically transformed into the body and blood of Jesus.

4. CRISS-CROSS or crossing lines comes to use from the textbooks used in the middle ages to educate the children of the nobility. As their teachers were almost always priests (who were the literate class) and the teachers wanted to instill not just education but respect for the faith and church, they would include Christian crosses anywhere they could, including at the start and end of the alphabet. Some books even organized information into the shape of a cross on the page. This Christ-cross was always pronounced criss-cross and eventually came to be spelled that way.

5. CULPRIT, or a criminal guilty of a crime, first appears in English court records in 1678. It is thought to be the abbreviation "cul. prit." which is short for the Latin phrase that means "He is guilty and I'm ready to prove it" which is what the prosecutor said after the defendant claimed otherwise.

6. CURFEW, or the time that all (particularly teenage daughters out on dates) must return home and go to bed, comes from the French curvre-feu or "cover the fire." Because houses in the dark ages were of wood and thatch and heat was provided by open fireplaces, city fathers all over Europe would ring a bell at a late hour to remind people to put the fire out before going to bed. In some towns, a fire marshal would impose a fine on any fire found burning in an unapproved fireplace after that bell had rung. When the French term came to England, the English thought it was spelled curfew.

7. CURMUDGEON, a cranky old person, may (no one is certain) come from "coeur merchant" which meant evil heart. Interesting how the word merchant means evil or greedy.

8. CURRANT, a type of berry, got its name due to a mistake. The word originally meant Corinth (an area of Greece) which produced a particular kind of grape. Dried into raisins, these were sold all over Europe and became known as currants. When someone introduced a bush with berries into England in the 1600s someone thought it was the source of currants, but it wasn't.
9. CYNIC, someone who sees evil intent behind many common occurrences, comes from Cynosarges, a building outside of Athens where the philosopher Antisthenes (a student of Socrates) taught a small number of students to seek pure virtues and motives and to hold those of lesser ideals in contempt. These students were insolent and self-righteous and nobody liked them much. During any discussion, someone who thought that the real reason behind events of the day was due to the evil motives of behind the scenes actions was known as a Cynic.
10. CYNOSURE, the center of attention, is the Greek word for a dog's tail. Zeus wanted to honor the nymph who raised him in hiding, so he gave her a constellation in the heavens and make one bright star (now called Polaris) the center of the sky around which all other stars rotated. Greek astronomers, seeing what we now think is the Little Bear, called it the Little Dog, and the star in question was the tip of the dog's tail.

Friday, April 27, 2012


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

USS HERMETIC: A standard destroyer, the USS Hermetic was designed with a unique damage control system designed to seal hatches and doors in the event the pressure was lost in part of the ship due to battle damage. Unfortunately, the system malfunctioned and sealed the door to every compartment (including the crew quarters) during the shakedown cruise. The captain and senior officers, suspecting that their careers would be ruined if the event "leaked out", simply never reported it to Star Fleet, although they did recommend (fortunately!) that the damage control system not be used and advised Star Fleet that they had deactivated it. As every compartment was sealed, the crew could only move around the ship (e.g., from the quarters, to the mess hall, to their duty stations) by means of the ship's transporters. The work-around worked well enough, and the crew eventually became quite accustomed to this mode of intra-ship transportation, using transporters to report to work at the start of their shifts and to go "home" at the end. The crew was so happy with duty on the Hermetic that no one ever asked for a transfer off the ship! When Star Fleet needed a ship for a long-duration mission, the Hermetic was selected because the crew was obviously quite happy on board and wouldn't mind being away from home for years. Stopping at the first Class-M planet they encountered, the crew discarded the useless turbolift cars (nobody had used them to get to their stations in a year) and filled the turbolift shafts with water and fish beamed up from the planet's oceans, then filled the useless corridors with grass and small animals (the local equivalent of chickens and rabbits). Plumbing drew water from the turbolift shafts to irrigate the corridors, and collected water vapor to refill the "on-board ocean". Waste from the crew was used to feed the animals, plants, and fish on board. In this way, the ship could grow its own food as it went along and did not have to rely on tasteless replicator rations (further contributing to the ship's unusually high crew morale!). The cooks would, when mealtime approached, use transporters to beam the selected livestock (minus the useless innards) directly to the oven. When the General War began, the USS Hermetic was brought back from the Second Fleet and thrown into combat. During the Second Battle of Blackfoot Pass, the USS Hermetic took heavy damage but almost no crew casualties due to its extremely high "internal compartmentalization factor". The ship was boarded by over a hundred Klingon Marines, who rampaged up and down the corridors but could not get into any of the compartments. The crew did not even realize that Klingons were on board until two weeks later, when enterprising Klingon combat engineers managed to pry open the doors to the turbolift shaft, flooding the corridors on the lower decks and triggering alarms when the turnip crop was waterlogged. Faced with an ecological disaster, the crew had no choice but to fly to a nearby Fleet Repair Dock which cut open the long-sealed hatches and restored the ship to its proper design standards. Morale fell to such a low-level that the entire crew resigned en masse (something Star Fleet allowed because no other ship would accept the transfer of such unhappy crewmen).

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here:

We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Things Move Along

This is Steven Petrick posting.

As might be assumed, I am working on several different projects, in addition to assisting SVC with Marines: Assault. With the exception of Captain's Log #45 none of my projects have definite end dates, but all of them take time, and get interrupted by the normal course of business (whether checking orders, answering the phone, or other administrative tasks).

More interruptions are coming down the road as we are about to engage in a project that is long past due.

There are a lot of different drafting programs out there, and on this score Federation Commander and Star Fleet Battles have long parted ways. While this may remain the case for the foreseeable future, I need to be able to work in the program that creates Federation Commander ship cards: something I currently have no idea how to do. So we are going to have to have an interruption where SVC basically sits down and works through a ship card with me.

This is not going to just be "cut and paste," i.e., making ship cards out of stuff SVC has done before. I need to know how to create tables in the program for new weapons should the issue come up.

I am quite capable of taking an SFB SSD and figuring out how it should be converted, but the actual mechanics have been outside of my bailiwick. Making the underlying ship outlines on which the boxes are laid out may be much more of a chore. I have never done that kind of drafting, and am not particularly artistic in my own right.

This is, however, something that we very definitely need to do, and have needed to do since SVC took up the new program for Federation Commander. His recent accident in front of the office was a good indication of why (we had decided on this update program before he fell, and his fall is the only reason its implementation has been delayed, i.e., he needed to recover enough to work with me, and he needed to finish the Marines module).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.

All that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 15-21 April 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was supposed to be a week or furious work getting Marines/Assault, Nova-Starmada, and Romulans PD20M to press. That didn't happen because Steve Cole was injured in a fall on Tuesday and (for all practical purposes) was not here (or might as well not have been) all week. The weather this week was decent. The spam storm mostly remained at something over 200 per day.

Leanna and Steve Cole continued celebrating events on the 35th anniversary of their whirlwind courtship. This was the furious "week two" when they went out on a date every single day (sometimes twice) and played their first game of miniature golf (Leanna won, and not because Steve let it happen).

New on e23 this week was Captain's Log #22.

A second entire week went by with none of the promised shipments of 2500 miniatures from Mongoose and no explanation why these shipments have not been made.

Steve Cole accomplished only five of his 20 goals (one page of Book E, set up files for Communique #77 and Hailing Frequencies for May, got the quotes on the Marines and Nova covers and sent them to press, had his dental appointment, read everything on his clipboard of stuff from Petrick, and ordered the countersheet and interior art for FC Reinforcements. That, and a lot of moaning and groaning, was about it. At least when he was home he could supervise the landscapers who were updating Leanna's back yard.

Steven Petrick wound up work on T2012 and started doing the revision to SFB Module R2 (updating 20 SSDs). He also worked on the tactical sections of Captain's Log #45.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and ordered a new Kyocera 9530 (Ziva) to replace the worn-out Samantha and Vala.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,173 friends), proofread sales blurbs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

Playing games by email or by post is an alternative to playing face-to-face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.

When playing Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via email. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "SitRep" (Situation Report) to the players via email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders, and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.

Every FC or SFB PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a good, enjoyable game. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to learn more about the game's rules.

Prime Directive games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out across the world to play.

Players of all our games are expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat, some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get close to a face-to-face experience.

While there are some disadvantages to playing long distance (it does take longer to finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia, anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and soda).

For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Friday, April 20, 2012


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

USS BUZZSAW: A unique variant with photon torpedoes replacing all of its phaser-1s, the ship exploded during its first test firing. After years of study of the wreckage, a Board of Inquiry ruled that the explosion was due to a design error in which the naval architects had failed to convert inches into millimeters.

USS YO-YO: The original test ship for the drogue, the system never functioned correctly and continuously released and recovered the drogue during its entire combat career. Enemy (and friendly) ships stayed as far away from the Yo-yo as they could.

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Better is the Enemy of Good Enough

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Finding something to say is always hard for me. I only have so many stories to tell, and I am sure I have told them all and do not want to repeat them endlessly. I also find the daily operations of the office generally lacking in items of interest.

I spent the day doing SSD updates, and completing my current project so that I can hand that to Leanna tomorrow. I hate the program I had to do the project in, even though SVC uses this program all the time. Text keeps changing from 9 on 10 point to 9 on 10.8 for no reason (even after the files have been saved). Every time I change it back, the text no longer fits (because space has been sucked up) and I have to adjust the layouts. At one point a column of text jumped from one page to another unconnected page for no reason I am aware of (probably I hit some key pattern, but I only just noticed the jump because a "gap" I had left on a page for a graphic jumped to a different column, leaving the graphic overlaying text in the new column. I spent about an hour trying to figure out what happened because, as part of the jump, the title at the start of the column that jumped was deleted. Only a page by page comparison of a previous printout revealed what had happened.

I have the project completed now, and ready to give Leanna tomorrow, but I hate this program and do not want to work with it. I know how to work in the program I regularly use, and while it has glitches, I have enough experience to spot the problems and work around them. And I know how to use a lot of the simpler sub programs in it.

It is one of those cases where it is hard to tell what would take more time, extended training in new programs, or just keep working with older proven programs.

One of the things I do need to learn is how to make Federation Commander ship cards. SVC loves the program he does those in, but to me it seems more something geared to an engineer's tastes, and I am far more comfortable with the older system. One of the problems is that SVC has forgotten a lot about how the old program works and is sometimes confused by what I do with it because it is familiar to me.

These competing programs help emphasize the old Russian proverb: "Better is the enemy of good enough."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to Find Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four war gamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames) would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI (then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each 450 miles away (in opposite directions).

These days, the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then you can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents near you. We are gaining new sign-in's every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in your town. (That HAS happened.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone numbers.

Many towns have community bulletin boards on the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some five thousand players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined. The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would not give an identity thief any more information than a local phone book would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of Starlist.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. You can post a notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as much or as little information as you are comfortable with.

Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

If there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If there is a game club in your home town, or a store with a gaming area, go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is. (Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't be bored.) If there is a star trek club in your home town, show them Federation Commander or Star Fleet Battle Force. There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our games and their Email address and left these in the windows of their cars who got Emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

There are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a short while by trying these methods.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself that Jean wants him to do more blogs about the company.

1. My work can be more or less divided into two groups, the administrative stuff to run the company and the creative stuff to bring about new products. Many things don't entirely fit into one category or the other, but having 37 categories would be meaningless so I'll settle for just two (and some vagueness about which is which).

Running the company includes handling various emails, sending work orders to various employees, meetings, whatever I have to do for this week's e23 upload, blogs, doing Communique and Hailing Frequencies, dealing with GAMA or things about some convention we're going to, rule questions (including appeals from the Q&A czars), getting press quotes, answering Leanna's daily questions, dealing with convention support issues, marketing, the weekly time allotted to customer requests, dealing with other companies, dealing with whatever building maintenance issues Leanna or Steven Petrick cannot handle, and answering memos from Mongoose.

Creative stuff includes: reading things Steven Petrick did for SFB or Captain's Log, creating ship cards and scenarios for FC, doing SIT updates for F&E, writing or editing articles for Captain's Log, progress on the various long term projects (for example E or the Gazetteer) that get a dab of work every week and will take years to finish, doing a few pages of Star Fleet Admiral, playtesting Marines, creating or editing fiction, working on project T (I so wish I could talk to you about the most exciting product we have ever done, but give me a few more weeks), processing reports on stuff I sent to the staff, and other things. The most important creative thing (although it's partly administrative) is the FLAP list for a new product. The ones for Captain's Logs are particularly important, as they involve updating a lot of databases and website documents.

When I get my admin stuff done each day, I take what's left and do creative things. I try to mix it up, to get something done on every project every week. (Sort of like Dave Ramsey's debt snowball.)

2. One aspect of running the Star Fleet Universe is the need to keep track of what has been done. One example is ship names. We have a master index of every ship name every used in anything (history, scenario, story), and every time we do anything we have to go check that index to either find a ship name that is available (cannot destroy a ship in a year prior to a previously published battle it was in) or make sure the one we want to use is available. This is usually pretty frantic as it gets done at the last second, just before the module or Captain's Log goes to press, when we're all exhausted and just want to get finished. Steven Petrick gave me a stack of draft SFB scenarios to read, and since I am reasonably certain these will get published sometime in the next year, I went ahead and assigned the ship names when I wasn't busy.

3. One of the things about running the Star Fleet Universe is that every now and then we have to stop and invent a wheel. (Just today, I had to invent the ISC emblem for an escort ship, which we never had to have before.) The problem is then, how to you make sure that you use (or invent) the same wheel the next time you use it. The place where that symbol would be explained is the little chart about ISC symbols and what they mean. But we've printed that chart several times, and there are multiple copies on my hard disk. I can only hope that a year or two from now when I do the DDE and FFE that I remember to go look at the CLE or at the right copy of the chart.

4. Probably every other week somebody suggests we use Kickstarter to launch new projects. For those who don't know, this is a website where you basically say your company will do a new product if we get this many pre-orders, and the website holds the money until you reach the goal or don't. If you do, they give you the money and orders. If you don't, they send the money back to the people. The theory is for a publisher to not invest money in product without some guaranteed sales.) We looked into this once, and decided we didn't need it, as we have enough money to publish whatever we have time to design, and we cannot start designing something unless we're sure it will sell. Lately, however, I'm seeing reports of companies raising hundreds of thousands of dollars (in one case over a million dollars) on Kickstarter, and thinking that maybe we need to look into this further. This dovetails into my plans to move the company (at least partly) in the direction of games that have "four pages of rules and some toys" like normal non-genre games. I've always found that impossible because it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to make plastic Klingon soldiers and I didn't want to gamble every dollar we had on something we didn't know would sell. Maybe Kickstarter would be a way to find that out. Such games actually take a lot less design time, so we could afford to design them and then abandon the design if nobody wants to buy it. (It will take me six months of work to do Marines. It took me less than a week for Secret Project T, which is four pages and toys and should sell better. And just maybe if I wasn't rolling the dice with all of our money, I'd consider doing T in a different way than I'm currently considering.)

5. I wanted to have an artist do a picture of a pig sitting on a drone holding two pinwheels, but Leanna said we'd probably get sued by the company that does those commercials. Jean suggested we could have a space boar crying wee wee wee all the way home after escaping from the pen Star Fleet trapped him in.

6. We got a dozen copies of Zocchi's old STAR FLEET BATTLE MANUAL and half a dozen copies of his ALIEN SPACE on the theory that a few collectors might want them. Jean spread the news and we sold out in 24 hours and ordered twice as many more. The Star Fleet Universe would not exist except that "Uncle" Lou Zocchi kindly put us in touch with Franz Joseph, who gave us the first of our licenses. That's why Lou's page on the Wall of Honor has a very rare Distinguished Service Cross.

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 8-14 April 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This week started to get intense as parts of Marines went to press and more parts were prepped and ready. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something over 200 per day. Stephen and Leanna Cole continued to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their 31-day courtship, including their first kiss on 12 April 1977.

Nothing new went on e23 this week but Captain's Log #22 was prepared and sent and should appear next week.

Steve Cole worked on his list of 22 goals, completing 20 of them (Communique #76, an hour of work on Project E, a reserve blog for Jean's file, reviewed Petrick's Call Out Notes for Captain's Log #45, did 14 pages of the Federation Commander reference scenario book, finished the Captain's Log #44 FLAP list, updated the text catalog again, sent the last Reinforcements Attack cards to the staff, updated the Klingon SIT, revised the Marine gunboat rules, did reports on generic Starline 2500 ships for Mongoose, got the Marines cover ready for press, got the blood tests for his physical, ordered stickers for Starmada covers, did several pages of Federation Admiral, sent the Marines map to press, requested quotes for Nova and Marine covers, and did an F&E Q&A page for Captain's Log #45) and several other things besides (graphics for T2012, reports on FC, the Captain's Log #22 description for e23, a nice chat with the Historical Miniatures Gamers Society, worked on the ACTASF scout rules, worked on customer request items, reviewed T2012, approved nine new Starline 2500 ships for production, discussed new Klingons with Mongoose, and set up Petrick's scenario workshop).

Steven Petrick worked mostly on T2012, fighting the formatting demons, inserting tournament information for non-SFB games, and integrating Squadron Major into the entire concept.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1165 friends), proofread things, wrote an article for T2012, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the Federation Commander game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have wallpaper for your computer so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Steve Cole comments:

Probably once a month, we get an email or letter from some game designer who wants to sell us his Star Trek game. Sadly, most of those conversations quickly determine that the designer is unaware of a few facts, and once he becomes aware of them he loses any interest in negotiating a deal to publish his game.

First, we're game designers and while we do publish outside designs, we don't (strictly speaking) need them to find things to print. If we see a great one (or a small one that doesn't take much trouble) we'll do it, but we're not going to stop everything we're doing to print a game someone else did and give him all of the profit.

Second, most of these outside designers have no real idea what ADB is or realize that we cannot print any old Trek game, but only games specifically designed to fit inside the Star Fleet Universe. Maybe you did the greatest TNG game ever, but we cannot print it. Very few people realize that we can only use a very limited set of Trek material (and a very large set of things we created ourselves) and assume that we can use anything they find in any website that says "Trek" on it somewhere. This leads to a lot of arguments and hard feelings. We told one designer (who did a card game) that a particular card would have to be removed as it violated the Paramount contract. He declared that the card must be included and it was up to us to do whatever it took to get Paramount to agree. That particular project came to a screeching halt at that point. Another designer kept copying art from the Paramount website that isn't allowed by our license and refused to remove it (or to allow us to replace it). That was another project that died on the spot. We're not going to go ask Paramount to expand our license (they won't do it anyway) and if we tell you "no" that is pretty much final.

I have seen a lot of game designers declare that their design is unique and like nothing on the market, only to have me point out other games that are virtually identical.

Few game designers have any idea what it costs to do something and build expensive components into their design. That's not a deal breaker (expensive games mean more profit if we can convince ourselves to risk the investment) but it does mean that the game has to have a BIG market.

Few game designers realize the need for playtesting and assume that because they wrote it down and played it with their local buddies that it's ready for production. It all but certainly isn't. It all but certainly fails to get all of the rules out of the game designer's head and onto the papers. It's very very unlikely that they deliberately tested the design the way we have to test games. (In a recent playtest of one our new games, one player spent the entire game deliberately trying to make one thing happen and it never did, meaning it's too hard to make it happen and the brilliantly written rule for that little thing will never actually come into play, so we had to change the percentages.)

Few game designers realize how little money there is in game design for the Adventure Game market. They think that since Milton Bradley will pay them a quarter of a million bucks, we will as well. I don't get paid anything remotely close to half that much and I run the company! You might, on an average SFB module, making a few hundred. You might, on a really good selling expensive stand-alone game, make a few thousand. You're not going to make enough for new house, not even enough for a new car.

Friday, April 13, 2012


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

But now, in the fourth and final part of the series, we come to those ships which, it might be said, restore the law of averages. If the elite were concentrated into nearly a hundred of the best ships in the fleet, what was Star Fleet to do with those who gave it the old Academy try and just didn't quite reach the level expected? These are their stories.

USS PEQUOD: Driven by a maniacal captain determined to rid the Pacifica sector of space monsters, the ship exploded after being rammed by a Moray Eel.

USS DERRINGER: Intended as a carrier escort, the Derringer had phaser-Gs replacing all of the photons and phaser-1s of the basic destroyer design. Popular with admirals (but not its crews), the USS Derringer was constantly in demand by carrier group commanders maneuvering to have it assigned to their force. The enemy could detect its weapons and always target it with the entire fleet's long-range fire; USS Derringer had the distinction of being the first ship put out of action in six separate battles. On a deep space mission, the ship disappeared into the Pardessus Pocket and was never seen again.

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the e23 and DriveThru RPG websites. So far on e23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way e23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and GURPS Prime Directive products We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale on e23. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some Ship Cards are available exclusively through e23. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Battle For the Town

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The last two playtests of Star Fleet Marines involved throwing a company of troops on shuttles against another company in a defended locality.

In both cases, SVC knew where I was going, and was not really surprised when I tried to leak through his perimeter to get to the core of his defense. In both cases my lead shuttle was forced back, delaying it, but the bulk of the force got through. Once grounded in the assembly area I had to push the assault as quickly as I could before his outer perimeter could reinforce the main redoubt.

The first time we did this, I did catch him by surprise with a new tactic available to me because I had the shuttles, but I was unable to succeed. SVC rolled very well, destroying two of the shuttles outright (fortunately only one of them had troops aboard, but that still meant a loss of two squads in that shuttle plus the shuttles themselves). My assault gradually broke down in the face of the defender's firepower.

The second try benefited, and was harmed, by the first try. While I determined a better approach route, SVC allowed himself a squad in reserve. This squad reinforced his main redoubt, and but my assault gained a partial and critical success in seizing one end of the town. While SVC was trying to pull his troops back into the town, I desperately wanted to use the shuttles to attack them before they could reach it, while my own troops finished securing it.

It was not to be.

While I held one end of the town, all of my attacks to try to secure the center and opposite end of the town failed to achieve real success. While I would often kill the squad arriving to reinforce the center of town, I could never succeed in the supposedly easier attack against the opposite end of town. Needing firepower to support those attacks, I could not send the shuttles to try to interdict the movement of part of his company on the far side of the town.

Fortunately for me, the part of his company (nearly 33%) that now basically had me between them and the town felt pressured to try to get there. This caused them to try to get to the town quickly, and thus take high-speed low cover routes to accomplish this. That part of SVC's company was destroyed without a single squad making it into the town. If they had made it, it is possible that their added firepower (since the bulk of my force was of necessity trapped on open ground trying to fight their way into the town) might have been enough to reverse the tide, or at least stabilize the situation enough that he might have been able to kick my toehold out of the part of the town I held.

With SVC's last troops in the town (those on the far side that I was unable to interdict), and all further reinforcement eliminated, I was finally able to ground the shuttles and use them as light tanks. By that time I was basically down to a single platoon and my headquarters, and soon SVC was down to just his headquarters.

After several unsuccessful assaults directed only at his headquarters unit (I rolled an "8" on three consecutive close assaults where a "7" would have killed his last unit), I decided that it would be sour grapes on my part to keep saying no to SVC's request for the "Honors of War," insisting that sooner or later I would roll less than "8" and agreed he could leave.

It was a bloody fight, costing me nine squads and a shuttle to kill 14 of SVC's squads.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. Hailing Frequencies has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll find news on the latest releases both in print and e23, information on the company, and even serialized fiction. Hailing Frequencies also has links to the latest Star Fleet Alerts, which are press releases about new products and when they will be available for order. From Hailing Frequencies, you can link to Federation Commander specific news in the latest Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Monday, April 09, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 1-7 April 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was another normal week, with the Steves designing new games while everybody else worked on orders. The weather this week was cool and very pleasant. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on e23 this week was Star Fleet Times #11-#15 and searchable high resolution versions of all of the older Captain's Logs. Next week the new upload will be Captain's Log #22.

Steve Cole tried out a new goal-setting work plan, making a list of everything he wanted to do during the week and then allowing himself to pick whatever item from the list looked interesting. This worked fairly well. He reviewed ACTASF playtest reports and rules changes, worked on the Captain's Log #45 story, updated the Hydran SIT, tested sky cavalry and air strikes in Star Fleet Marines, finished Communique #76, did four pages of Federation Admiral, did reports to Mongoose on eight ships being evaluated by the players, wrote two more blogs, read the last of the SFB scenarios that Petrick had converted from FC, updated the Text Catalog, proofread the Captain's Log #45 command notes, reviewed the first large shipment of metal ships from Mongoose, did some work on secret projects T and E, did several pages of the FC Reference Scenario Book, did one page of F&E Q&A for Captain's Log #45, did the augmented BATS for Federation Commander Reinforcements Attack, did an FC scenario for the bank, updated the 2500 campaign ribbon list for 2012, and wrote this report.

Steven Petrick completed work on T2012, playtested Star Fleet Marines, did work on Captain's Log #45, updated the R107 errata, and got started on the D-update for the SFB Master Rulebook so it could be offered for hardback sales.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,162 friends), proofread Communique, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Star Fleet Universe Wallpapers

Joel Shutts writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download wallpaper with Star Fleet Universe art.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Big monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire.

If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Saturday, April 07, 2012


Steve Cole writes:

I constantly see things on industry mailing lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at www.StarFleetGames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.

In one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months? Six?"

I laughed and cried at the same time. For one thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry over 30 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the owner's games because no other company would publish them.

In another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg, borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was "bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000 cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales). Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18 months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married, make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep secrets from her about family money.

In another case (actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan, printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.

I see lots of gamers who think that running a retail store, and on-line discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Friday, April 06, 2012


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

But now, in the fourth and final part of the series, we come to those ships which, it might be said, restore the law of averages. If the elite were concentrated into nearly a hundred of the best ships in the fleet, what was Star Fleet to do with those who gave it the old Academy try and just didn't quite reach the level expected? These are their stories.

USS LOLLIPOP: The first ship of the class, it was given this name due to a misunderstanding of 300-year-old records. By the time of Star Fleet, nobody really remembered just what a "Lollipop" was, and the historical databases (disrupted by the various wars on Earth during the 21st and 22nd centuries) had only two references. One was a fragment of an old dictionary which defined "lollipop-shaped" and included an illustration, and the other was a cross-reference to the "Good Ship Lollipop" in the cultural database (the actual reference having been lost). After the ship was commissioned, further research discovered the true nature of the term and Star Fleet quickly sent the ship on a five-year mission somewhere, anywhere, that was out of sight of the media.

USS KAUFMAN: A standard four-photon destroyer, the Kaufman was, for reasons never really explained, built with the single warp engine facing backwards. This unique arrangement allowed the ship to fly at top speed away from the enemy while keeping all of her torpedoes bearing on the pursuing enemy force. This ship served with distinction on the Klingon front, until its continuing retrograde brought it within range of Romulan squadrons. There, its success continued. Romulan ships maneuvered to uncloak "behind" the fast-moving destroyer, only to find themselves facing the four hot torpedo tubes of the "Killer" Kaufman!

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

1. In the television show WALKING DEAD, they had an encounter with a patrol from another group. The other group demanded to know where the farm was, and as the conversation got more heated, drew their weapons. Drawing a gun on a sheriff who carries a gun for a living is never a good idea, and the good guys won, killing the two mean humans. Then a second patrol from the same group showed up, and in the firefight, one of the three mean humans was killed and another (badly wounded when he fell onto an iron picket fence) was captured. The third drove off in their vehicle. The prisoner was patched up, and a decision was made to take him somewhere and leave him.

That plan collapsed when the prisoner blurted out that he knew one of the women who lived a the farm (and where the farm was), so they brought him back and questioned him, then decided to kill him.

Now, I have some problems with this whole thing. Bringing in a prisoner from a mean bunch we bumped into a good thing if only because we can question him about the group. (Why didn't they question him right away?) Where are they? (Never seemed to get that out of the prisoner. I would get a map and discuss just where he's been for the last month.) How many are there? (He said 30 including women and kids, or 30 men plus a bunch of women and kids, it was never clear.) Are they friendly? (No. They attacked another small group, assaulting the man's two daughters. They are surviving by preying on the living as well as scavenging.)

Whatever we do with this prisoner (I vote to execute him because he's too much trouble to keep) we have a big problem with this large predatory group that is, apparently, camped somewhere within a few miles.

That group knows only that their patrol bumped into another group which killed three of their members and captured the fourth. They aren't sure if whoever they bumped into was a local group or a traveling group, or how big a group they are. What will they do?

What can we do? Looking for them is about as likely to lead them to us as to find them. What would we do if we found them? They obviously don't want to negotiate and they apparently are a much larger group that will happily kill all of us. The farm is not really defendable against an armed group of predatory humans. I think we need to prepare a plan for a final desperate gunbattle to go down fighting. As with burglars, if you make it too hard to get to us, maybe they'll go away.

2. OUR MOBILE GROUP: Steven Petrick and I were discussing how we would run a moving large group of nice humans who will from time to time bump into other groups.

First, we're moving for one of three reasons (and which one it is defines how we deal with other groups):

A. To some distant location which we think gives us an advantage (say, a fishing village where we can grab a boat and head for an island, or maybe a military base which we found out is still fighting). (In this case, we'd peacefully meet other groups, swap information, ask if they want to go with us, or perhaps see if some of our group want to stay with them instead of continuing to travel.)

B. To find a place to build a permanent bastion. (In that case, contacting a group that has a bastion becomes a matter of making a deal to join them. Contacting a moving group means we share info and maybe or maybe not join forces.)

C. We are operating from a bastion and we're just a patrol or expedition. (Finding another bastion means setting up contact and maybe trade, and agreeing on a border for our scavenging areas. Finding a moving group means deciding if we want to bring them into the fold.)

Second, we'd keep extensive records of where we went and what we found. By recording what towns have and have not been looted, we can identify any groups moving around (or based in) the general area. Or at least we can tell where not to bother sending scavenging expeditions. In any case, information is valuable trading material.

Third, we'd have worked out a plan to safely contact any group we bumped into. We need to find out if the new group is mean humans, nice humans who are willing to talk, or nice humans who are so paranoid we might as well not try to talk. When we bump into another group, we execute that protocol. We back off from a gunfight, and suggest a meeting the next day at someplace that doesn't smell like an ambush. (An open road with two hills a mile apart might work.)

The point of such contact is to see if we can trade anything (information, odd-caliber ammo, supplies), and if we want to join them or recruit them or just mutually agree to stay out of each other's way. I'd rather avoid going to war with other groups as this will burn up ammunition and get our own people hurt even if we win.

3. If I win the lottery, I might decide to build a zombie bastion (which would also work for any number of other end of the civilization scenarios such as financial collapse or a Yellowstone volcano). I'd look for some land that is a few miles from the highway, accessible by a couple of different all-weather roads, and out of sight (but where a nearby hill provides an observation post). I'd want to pick a place near a gas well so that in a post-apocalypse scenario I could tap in and have a steady fuel supply. Of course, we'd have wind turbines and solar panels, and our own well. I'd want to have a couple of acres behind solid chain link fences (since you can stab a zombie in the head through such fences) and have a redoubt inside that make up of cargo containers or brick walls or some combination. The gates would have to be well protected. I'd want to have a helipad (but not a helicopter) and have some small UAV photo-recon drones available. Fuel storage would have to be underground, and I'd need a year's food for my selected survival companions. I'd have to have somebody I trust live in the compound all the time so it's protected. We'd need lots of guns, of course.

4. The thing about the Zombie Apocalypse is that few of the movies ever say how it started. The key questions are: How did the first people get infected? (and can normal humans today suddenly get infected without coming into contact with zombies?) What percentage of the population is dead? (This defines the chances that some shred of government and of organized law and order still exists. It also indicates just how many survivors are competing for whatever supplies of canned food and unused ammo are still out there.) How fast did it go from TV reports that it was happening to the point of total collapse? (This defines how many reasonably intact grocery stores, drug stores, and gun stores are out there available to be harvested.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

My Disinterest in Food

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

for the past few years SVC, Leanna, and I all generally eat lunch together three times a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). Friday SVC and I usually have lunch together and sometimes Leanna will join us. The problem has become that there are not all that many places where we all (well . . . Leanna and SVC) like to eat, and making the decision of where to go on a given "joint" day often becomes difficult. I am literally no help on this as generally I do not care. Food is pretty much a matter of great disinterest to me, as long as it will not make me ill and is at least reasonably well prepared, and will provide enough "fuel" to keep all systems running at an optimal level. Prior to our moving to our current offices, I quite literally ate lunch virtually every single day at the local "Whataburger" (it being but a short walk away) and literally ordered exactly the same (double meat burger with extra pickles and mustard, no onions, no cheese, no tomatoes, large Fries, large diet coke) thing every single day I ate lunch there.

While we have tried for a while to have "standard" lunch dates, e.g. "Logans" on Monday, "Calico County" on Tuesday, "Cattle Call" on Thursday, eventually SVC or Leanna will tire of a given place and the schedule gets a change up. For example "Country Barn" on Monday, "Dyers" on Tuesday, and "Chick Fil A" on Thursday. No matter where we eat, I generally select some items from the menu of each place, and every subsequent time we go there I have exactly the same thing (although at both "Cattle Call" and "Dyers" in the last six or so months I did change my menu selections to the astonishment of both Leanna and SVC).

SVC and I virtually always go to "Blue Front Cafe" on Fridays, Leanna sometimes feels like giving them a try, but is not a regular.

But, as I have said, I do not care.

The only real difference for me is that as I have gotten older I find I have more interest in having a nice side salad when one is available. I know that Iceberg lettuce is not as healthy as other kinds, but I prefer it, and will often forgo tomatoes (I will eat them, but I do not really care for them). While I prefer my hamburgers without cheese, I do like grated cheese on my salad.

Food is such a matter of disinterest to me that on more than one occasion my "dinner" is no more than a couple of slices of wheat bread (nothing more, just bread) and a glass of milk. Even back in college and high school I would often go all out and have "buttered toast and tea" for breakfast or dinner.

Sad thing is, my mother liked to cook and liked to experiment with new dishes. My older brother caught the bug from her and is a pretty good cook in his own right.


I like simple. Spaghetti with plain meatballs and tomato sauce, but as I cannot do meatballs, I usually just boil the spaghetti and warm the tomato sauce and I am content.

I know that many people consider food part of their entertainment and go to extravagant extent to prepare it and have new flavors and what all.

I just consider it a waste of effort.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Many people do not know that you can play either STAR FLEET BATTLES or FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of STAR FLEET BATTLES with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then. It since expanded to include FEDERATION COMMANDER!

Now you can play with real live human (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) opponents all over the world in real time 24 hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly assistant for mundane chores.

For the modest subscription fee of less than $6 a month per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the STAR FLEET BATTLES/FEDERATION COMMANDER game systems as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don't show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own weddings. Don't be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or business trips.

Even better, you can join in on-line tournaments and campaigns, and your victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!

The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else's?) This "observer" system allows players of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to invest time and money in it.

We continue to develop FEDERATION & EMPIRE for an on-line environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. Players can even fly the FC Federation CA, FC Klingon D7, and the SFB Federation and Klingon tournament cruisers as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new FEDERATION COMMANDER aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Monday, April 02, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 25-31 March 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was a normal week, as the Steves worked on various new projects (trying to make progress on multiple fronts) while the rest of the crew kept shipping orders. The weather this week was very nice. The spam storm dropped below 200 (often below 150) per day after reports of some big police raids on spam servers. We got the first samples of metal ships from Mongoose and they are superb.

New on e23 this week was the Federation Commander Battle Tug Ship Card pack.

Steve Cole worked on many different projects, including T, E, Captain's Log #45 (two pages done), Star Fleet Marines, Mongoose ships (reports on 11 old ones and posted several new Gorns), ACTASF errata (the Gorns are still broken and now there are reports that Kzintis are too mean), Star Fleet Alert, schedule, and Communique (ISC BT). He reviewed the Mongoose Klingon decal sheet, Hailing Frequencies, Federation Commander Reinforcements Attack (reports done), and the Starmada Battleship Armada cover and read Petrick's new SFB scenarios. He even found time to do five pages of Federation Admiral, the long-delayed campaign book. He exchanged notes with Jeff Siadek who promised a new draft of the Battlestations Star Fleet rulebook.

Steven Petrick mostly worked on the update for T2012, but also did some work on Mongoose ships, scenarios, tactics papers, and checked Adam Turner's new B10 model for the Battleship Armada cover. Due to the huge volume of orders he was often pulled into helping check outgoing shipments.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,160 friends), proofread ship cards, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

ADB, Inc. Announces New Miniatures Line

After careful consultation with Marketing, Stephen V. Cole has decided upon an expansion to the Starline line of miniature starships.

We would like to announce The Sterling Silver Prestige Line. For the collector who had everything, this will prove to be the next hot item. Recession-safe, it can be used as bling and will be sure to draw the eye to any gaming table. Furthermore, these will be issued as a limited edition with a certificate of authenticity. Once these have been produced, no more will ever be made in silver. You will need to order quickly to be sure to get yours.

But wait! There's more! As part of this set, a to-scale version of the Planet Killer will be issued. Due to its size this will be silver foil over resin, but this huge model can hardly be considered your typical miniature! Awe and astonish your friends! Be the envy of all other gamers!

You can preorder these now at this link: http://www.starfleetgames.com/Prestige.shtml